The man long considered the second most powerful executive in the Orioles organization behind owner Peter Angelos has resigned to accept a position with a Baltimore-based developer of retirement communities.
Joe Foss, Orioles vice chairman and chief operating officer since December 1993, tendered his resignation Friday and will leave May 11 to become chief administrative officer of Erickson Retirement Communities in Catonsville.
"I was feeling that I needed some new challenges, having been with the Orioles for 14 years, and this opportunity came my way," said Foss, 58, who oversaw the club's day-to-day operations while Angelos ran his successful downtown law firm. "I have nothing but the deepest respect for Peter and the organization. I have had a perfectly wonderful 14 years."
Foss, who spent 21 years in banking before joining the Orioles, said he'll be "added to the executive team" of Erickson, which manages 20,000 residential units on 19 campuses in 10 different states, including Charlestown in Catonsville, Oak Crest in Parkville and Riderwood in Silver Spring.
"It's growing rapidly," he said, "and the growth expectations over the next decade are extremely significant."
What the change means for the Orioles, at least immediately, is unclear. The club has not announced whether Foss will be replaced or whether there will be a shift in job titles and/or responsibilities within the organization. Executive vice president John Angelos, a son of the owner, oversees most of the business operations and likely will continue to do so, but much of his recent energy has been dedicated to the club's fledgling television network.
When he joined the Orioles, Foss said, he expected John Angelos or his brother, Louis, would be his successor. John Angelos' burgeoning influence in the business side of the organization, Foss stressed, was not connected to his departure.
"John has engaged himself actively in the business, and he is a bright, talented individual and will continue to develop," Foss said. "My leaving here has absolutely nothing to do with the growing development of John and has nothing to do with my relationship with Peter, which is one of tremendous respect and fondness."
John Angelos could not be reached for comment.
In a prepared statement, Peter Angelos praised Foss for his service.
"He not only discharged his broad responsibilities in an extremely competent and conscientious manner, but did so with a ready smile, gaining, in the process, the respect of all with whom he dealt," Angelos said. "He was widely recognized as an articulate and thoroughly credible spokesman for the Orioles and handled that important responsibility with particular distinction.
"I personally enjoyed our many times together and Joe's great personal warmth. His engaging personality will surely be missed, as will the contribution of Joe's good counsel."
Perhaps Foss' most lasting contribution to the Orioles was negotiating and finalizing a compensatory deal with Major League Baseball after the Montreal Expos moved to Washington before the 2005 season.
Included in the landmark deal was the creation of a regional broadcast arm, the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network, which airs Orioles and Washington Nationals games as well as other Beltway-area sporting events, but is owned primarily by the Orioles.
It's probably Foss' most rewarding accomplishment, eclipsing his roles in helping prepare the winning bid for the Orioles in 1993, the 1994-1995 labor talks and the historic night of Sept. 6, 1995, when Cal Ripken Jr. became baseball's all-time iron man.
"I've had such a wealth of wonderful experiences," said Foss, a Minnesota native who came to Washington in 1989 as a bank president. "But what for me stands out is the package we negotiated with Major League Baseball to secure the long-term financial stability of the club and the development of MASN."
For years, Foss was the public face of the club's business operations, but in recent years seemed to drift further behind the scenes.
"I don't think I was ... consciously stepping back," he said. "Quite honestly I was never one that wanted to be that visible publicly, but the position at that time required it.
"Once MASN launched and the financial protection for the club with the Nationals was committed to and was behind us and there were no serious labor issues to comment on, the business reverted back to what it should be with the media talking to [Orioles management] about the team and the players."
Foss will best be known within the organization as someone who continually demonstrated a Midwestern sensibility and calm in a high-pressure position.
"He was just someone that was incredibly stable in the office," executive vice president Mike Flanagan said. "I could certainly go there for professional advice, personal advice. I will certainly miss the day-to-day contact, but I'm sure we'll still see each other a lot."
Although he'll no longer be in the warehouse offices, Foss said he'd be at Camden Yards frequently, as a fan cheering the Orioles.
"This was not an easy decision to make," he said. "Anytime you leave a place it is difficult, especially a situation that you have grown to be comfortable in and love and enjoy. And yet I feel I want a new challenge."